Everything bad is good for you?

Next up at the Handheld Learning 2008 conference: Steven Johnson, cultural critic and author of Everything Bad is Good for You.

He spoke about three types of increasing complexity in popular culture experiences: content, participation and interface.

Of interest to me was what he said about LOST. The TV series LOST is very complicated: lots of characters, inter-related narratives, cryptic clues, etc. He argues that it’s one of the most complex series of all time. The TV creators of today are able to take this non-interactive medium and conceive it as an interactive one, because they can rely on collaboration between participatory viewers who discuss the show on the web.

People also say that the attention span of the youth is reducing in today’s popular culture world. Not so, says Johnson, as he compares the time it takes to read a book, play a game, watch a TV show and follow a blogger. The book, which apparently young people don’t read anymore because they only respond to quick interactions, actually demands the least amount of time when compared with other popular activities of youth. Interesting.

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